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Blockchain Is or Isn’t Happening, Depending on Whom You Ask

At the close of 2017, Forrester issued a forecast calling for a slowdown in blockchain projects in 2018.

The research firm went so far as to call 2018 the “year of reckoning” for enterprise initiatives around blockchain as experimentation would eventually fizzle out when transformational results were not achieved.

“Those who persevere with their blockchain initiatives are not only aware (sometimes painfully) that the technology is still at a very early stage of development, but also understand that this isn’t really about technology, but about business,” principal analyst Martha Bennett wrote in a blog post. “This is what sets them apart from those who follow the siren call of tech industry promises without sufficient grasp of what a blockchain network is all about, both from a business and a technology perspective; the resulting vanity projects will invariably fail.”

But even as tech giants like IBM and Microsoft continue investing in this arena, there’s little consensus about the future of the tamper-proof distributed ledger technology that’s been seen as disrupting a host of industries.

Meanwhile, KMPG’s Pulse of Fintech 2018 report expects blockchain to “gain momentum” this year. Blockchain’s capabilities extend from recordkeeping and the registration of transactions to documentation management and supply chain management,” the report noted. “While it has primarily been looked at from a banking and insurance point of view to date, the reality is blockchain opportunities abound and could enhance processes for any number of U.S. and global businesses.”

Maybe logistics service providers are onto something. According to the 2018 Global Logistics Report from supply chain software experts JDA, just shy of 53 percent see blockchain as a “game-changing technology”—narrowly beating out artificial intelligence AI, (51.3%) and squarely ahead of robotics (44.6%). Even more interesting, nearly 26 percent have achieved the greatest ROI from their blockchain investments, more than from their spending on other technologies including AI, robotics, autonomous vehicles and drones.

Half of those polled haven’t spent a dime on blockchain, but the most (33 percent) invested $100,000 or less. Just 2 percent have doled out more than $2 million on distributed ledger technology. Though the interest in blockchain is to be expected, “what is a surprise is the confidence respondents have in its abilities to disrupt,” the report said.